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Open Access Research article

The influence of self-reported leisure time physical activity and the body mass index on recovery from persistent back pain among men and women: a population-based cohort study

Tony Bohman1*, Lars Alfredsson1, Johan Hallqvist23, Eva Vingård4 and Eva Skillgate15

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Box 210, Stockholm SE-17177, Sweden

2 Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Public Health Epidemiology, Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset, Stockholm SE-17176, Sweden

3 Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Preventive Medicine, Uppsala University, Box 564, Uppsala SE-75122, Sweden

4 Department of Medical Science, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Uppsala University, Akademiska sjukhuset, Uppsala SE-75185, Sweden

5 Skandinaviska Naprapathögskolan (Scandinavian College of Naprapathic Manual Medicine), Kräftriket 23A, Stockholm SE-11419, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:385  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-385

Published: 25 April 2013

Abstract

Background

There is limited knowledge about leisure time physical activity and the body mass index (BMI) as prognostic factors for recovery from persistent back pain. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of leisure time physical activity and BMI on recovery from persistent back pain among men and women in a general population.

Methods

The study population (n=1836) in this longitudinal cohort study consisted of participants reporting persistent back pain in the baseline questionnaire in 2002-2003. Data on leisure time physical activity, BMI and potential confounders were also collected at baseline. Information on recovery from persistent back pain (no back pain periods ≥ 7 days during the last 5 years) was obtained from the follow-up questionnaire in 2007. Log-binomial models were applied to calculate Risk Ratios with 95 percent Confidence Intervals (CI) comparing physically active and normal weight groups versus sedentary and overweight groups.

Results

Compared to a sedentary leisure time, all measured levels of leisure time physical activity were associated with a greater chance of recovery from persistent back pain among women. The adjusted Risk Ratios was 1.46 (95% CI: 1.06, 2.01) for low leisure time physical activity, 1.51 (95% CI: 1.02, 2.23) for moderate leisure time physical activity, and 1.67 (95% CI: 1.08, 2.58) for high leisure time physical activity. There were no indications that leisure time physical activity influenced recovery among men, or that BMI was associated with recovery from persistent back pain either among men or among women.

Conclusions

Regular leisure time physical activity seems to improve recovery from persistent back pain among women.

Keywords:
Low back pain; Physical activity; Obesity; Epidemiology; Public health